GoSee's feedback would be very much appreciated prior to me paying out $80k for a fancy model JGC (Jeep Grand Cherokee) with a QL (Quadra Lift) feature that may prove to be more of a problem than a feature.
I have spoken to many Jeep dealers and none of them seem to have had any experience with towing issues on JGC's fitted with QL.
I read an old article of yours published at GoSeeAustralia.com.au in August 2012 where you tested a Jeep Grand Cherokee (JGC) with Quadra-Lift self-levelling air suspension (QL) towing a Jayco caravan. In that article you said that the towing experience improved significantly after you added a Hayman Reece (HR) anti-sway system. You also indicated that you were working with HR engineers in relation to the anti-sway cams and the outcomes would be the subject of another more detailed information article.
The reason for my email is that I could not find any further of your articles on the JGC with QL and towing issues when using or not using a weight distribution hitch or an anti-say hitch. I was hoping you could give me some further feedback as I know that issues have been raised a few times by quite few owners of JGCs with QL.
I have on order a Retreat 23ft van with middle door (approx. 2.8t fully loaded and over 250kg on the ball) and I now need to buy a tow car. I have read a lot of forums and the JGC seems like a great tow car and I am keen to buy a top of the line Summit model in the next week or so.
That model comes standard with trailer sway control and Quadra-Lift self-levelling suspension which all sounds good.....but as I said I have read and spoken to quite a few people (including caravan dealers and service agents) that say the Jeep Quadra-lift air-suspension or possibly the trailer sway electronics sometimes fight with caravans, particularly when using a weight distribution hitch (WDH) and/or a van with ESC.
Jeep say a WDH is required if towing over 2.2t which I am very happy to install. But I have been told and read that you can get swaying or an out of synch experience and white knuckle steering as the cars electronics and the vans ESC or the WDH fight against each other.
I have also read and heard that many JGC owners tow large loads with and without WDHs and have no problems. So I am very confused. I want to use a WDH as I think they are essential with a van over 2.2t and with a likely relatively high tow ball weight and I want to avoid any insurance claim issues.
Do you have any more experiences of towing with Quadra-Lift and finding it nervous or prone to swaying when connected to a van with ESC or via a WDH? If so, were you able to resolve the issue by minor adjustments or did you have to install an anti-sway hitch to solve the issues?
Do you think that I would be able to turn the self-levelling off and just rely on the WDH when towing?
I have been told by two caravan dealers and by someone from a Caravan Service Centre (Stewart from Hardings in Kilsyth who installs about 4 towbars to JGC's a week) that many owners do have issues when towing with the Quadra-Lift and WDH's. They can take a lot of fine tuning and the set up needs to be just right. It sounds like I should be OK and just be prepared to experiment a bit if the rig feels a bit nervous.
Your feedback would be very much appreciated prior to me paying out $80k for a fancy model JGC with a QL feature that may prove to be more of a problem than a feature.
PS: I have spoken to many Jeep dealers and none of them seem to have had any experience with towing issues on JGCs fitted with QL. I also posted a query on a caravan forum and so far the 3 responses have said no problems with QL.
Hello Ian thanks for the timely questions this is an interesting topic which has implications for all those who tow.
GSA has had similar up and down experience with our Toyota Sahara 100 Series and its Active Height Control.
The lastest information (this month) GSA has on Hayman Reese pro-active anti sway from an impeccable engineering source is that if your caravan has Electronically Stability Control (ESC) the HR pro-active option is unnecessary.
GSAs now extensive use of Hayman Reese Weight Distribution (WDH) in our Jayco 21 and 23 Sterlings and the GSA full-time on the road Blue Sky 21ft caravan has revealed no issues over thousands of kilometres.
GSA regards a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) as a significant towing safety aid which helps braking and steering where significant ball-weights are involved.
As reported by GSA after the initial towing Hayman Reese WDH and pro-active anti-sway control evaluation to Lightning Ridge from Melbourne and return to Canberra one GSA driver said the Jeep Grand Cherokee (2013 model) and the Jayco 21ft towed better with pro-active anti-sway in operation. Neither of the GSA Jayco Sterlings have Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
The GSA Blue Sky 21ft caravan has Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and GSA uses a WDH but does not fit the Hayman Reese pro-active anti-sway when towing this caravan.
Neither the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee nor the 2014 model we have experience with show any Quadra Lift problems when towing.
GSA took up this point at the request of a GoSeer with our current Jeep dealer Bayside Frankston while we were at the Melbourne Caravan and Camping Supershow.
Bayside Jeep advises that towing does not benefit from switching the Jeep Grand Cherokee to Sports.
Auto will handle anything that comes up Bayside Jeep says.
GSA thinks Quadra Lift and protective plates have their highest value off-road.
GSAs analysis of the JGC by our numbers man Bob Polly Farmer led us to buy two Laredos and cherry pick the best features of the Limited model options.
This produces the best value outcome in our opinion.
Are you OK with this discussion being posted to GoSee for the benefit of users?
From Ian Bramstedt:
Thanks for your response. Yes I am very happy for any parts of this discussion to be posted.
I am starting to think that this could be a case of the technologies (automated electronics) for the car the and caravans industries advancing so fast and the industries not keeping up with the compatibility issues. Vehicles like the JGC have self-levelling suspension and trailer sway control and most caravans now have ESC and most are towed with weight distribution hitches.
In the case of the JGCs I have now spoken to a few different people who have quoted strange swaying issues when towing with a modern van.
The majority of users report no problems so it is only certain set ups that have the issue.
The issues seem to be with JGCs fitted with QL and when using a WDH.
What is very puzzling is the question of what is causing the incompatibility problems.
Are the QL and the WDH fighting each other?
I personally cannot see how those things could cause a bad towing experience, as long as the WDH is not over tight and the van is loaded correctly.
I have spoken to the makers of the ESC units and they say they cannot see how their units could cause any problems with the towing vehicle. All those units do is brake, either one or both caravan wheels, when a sway is detected.
How could that possibly cause more swaying or strange behaviour?
But I recently spoke to a Jeep dealer who has had some of his customers report bad towing experiences. His theory seemed to be that the JGCs trailer sway control unit is detecting a sway and braking one rear wheel to stop it. The caravans ESC then picks up through the A frame that the Jeep is veering slightly in one direction so breaks one or both caravan wheels which drags the Jeep back in the other direction. This cycle continues for some time like a harmonic wave effect making the driver hang on to the steering wheel very tight wondering what is happening.
That is the experience that a couple of caravan dealers have told me that their customers feel when towing with JGCs fitted with QL.
All JGCs have trailer sway control fitted but it appears to be only those fitted with the QL suspension that get bad towing experience.
I am not sure why the QL makes any difference to a swaying effect. Unless it is to do with how the Jeeps trailer sway control electronics work in conjunction with the self-levelling suspension and in combination with the caravan ESC electronics. Or that the WDH causes the QL to pulsate up and down tricking the sway control systems into to reacting in some way.
I have now ordered a JGC Summit model and are taking the chance that my rig does not have any issues or that I will be able to sort it out.
The sales staff at Bayside Jeep are not aware of any problems but most of them do not use a WDH when towing.
If I do have issues I will most likely experiment with such adjustments as height of hitch on tow bar, how tight I pull up the WDH, what settings I have the QL in when connecting up, weight distribution of the load in the van and maybe even try disconnecting the caravans ESC (Dexter).
If all that fails I would then consider fitting a Hayman Reese WDH with a pro-active anti-sway cam system (which should not really be necessary with all the other technology).
The examples I have been quoted could have been badly loaded vans or vans with bad suspensions, but I very much doubt that.
They have been with modern vans and they have been taken back to van dealers or towing specialists to try and sort it out.
I heard in one case where the Jeep owner ending up selling the Jeep.
One Jeep dealer I spoke to (not on record) said that if anyone was concerned about the towing issues with QL then he was recommending JGC models that do not have QL.
(I agree that QL is mainly an off-road aid but I also like it as a self-leveller when you have high cargo weights in the back compartment or when towing smaller trailers and the ability to set a low parking/exit heightand it is standard on the Summit model).
I agree that a WDH is a significant towing safety aid which helps braking and steering where significant ball-weights are involved.
Jeep are one of the very few car manufacturers with self-levelling air bag suspension that say WDH required for towing loads exceeding 2,268kg.
So for protecting your insurance claims as well as for safety purposes I would always use a WDH with my Jeep.
It seems however that in certain circumstances with certain rigs there is some sort of issue with the self-levelling suspension models that results in some tensing up on the steering wheel trying to keep the rig straight. I would like to see further tests done to see what causes these issues.
Yes GSA agrees with a general need for all concerned to fully understand caravan towing compatibility issues Ian.
GSA thinks this involves a fully compliant industry and a need forcaravan buyer educationacross brands of tow vehicles and caravans.
We offer thoughts in this discussion based in experience towing with the specific models 2013-2014 of the 4WD Quadra-Lift diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.
GSA knows from experience that an over-tensioned Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) can cause handling issues.
We have also seen structural failure in some tow vehicles in this context.
Hardings will help you get your WDH set-up correctly.
Once this is done GSA suggests you mark the correct chain links with a zip-tie to eliminate potential mistakes.
We recommend the all vehicle and caravan owners read the Owners Manual.
Jeeps Owner Manual says: WDH required for towing loads exceeding 2,268kg.
GSAs towing evaluations include these comments from a newcomer to towing:
Travelling the flat sealed a bit rough highways back of Bourke, the Jeep towed the Jayco Sterling with easy efficiency. The Jayco Sterling caravan was, identifiably, held firmly in place by the Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) system and the caravan felt beautifully - but maybe too firmly - in place.
The Hayman Reese anti-sway cam system was added to the towing technology mix for the Jeep / Jayco tug and tow combination at Lightning Ridge some 10 days into the apprentice's introduction and induction to caravanning. The improvement to towing was significant:
a. The over firm feel of the tow / tug hitch was now a balanced on road drive / tow experience where the self-levelling technology of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to properly function without opposing force from the Hayman Reese weight distribution system (WDH) restricting the Jeeps electronic system's best efforts.
The tug / tow dynamics were now very much in harmony. This produced a very good tow / tug set up which improved to be a great fully balanced - Jeep Grand Cherokee - Hayman Reese Weight Distribution and Anti Sway - Jayco Sterling 20 Series 21.65-4 tug / tow 4WD and caravan combination.